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Wetland: Definition, Characteristics, Importance and Threats

What is Wetland?

Wetland definition as per Ramsar convention – “Wetlands are highly variable and dynamic, they are water bodies, but also include land. They are fresh water, brackish or saline, Inland or Coastal, seasonal or permanent, natural or man-made, and static or flowing. Wetland includes mangroves, Swamps and marshes, rivers, lakes, floodplains and flooded Forest, rice fields and even coral reefs.

Wetlands exist in every country and in every climatic Zone. It covers an area that is 33 percent larger than USA.

What are the characteristics of Wetland?

  1. Wetlands are water saturated areas with temporary (seasonal) or permanent presence of water.
  2. It contains hydric soil that is pores of soil saturated with water leading to an aerobic condition.
  3. It supports hydrophytic vegetation floating and submerged plant.

Some important facts regarding wetlands

  1. It covers 6% of Earth’s land surface
  2. About 40% of all plant and animal species live or breed in Wetland
  3. More than 1 billion people depend on them for living.

Importance of wetlands

  1. Economic use – Aquaculture, irrigation and salt making
  2. Ecological use – It helps in recharging of ground water, recycling of waste, moderation of climate and etc.
  3. Biodiversity use – Helps in conservation of migratory birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and etc.
  4. Religious and cultural use

What are the threats to Wetlands?

  1. Encroachment and diversion of wetlands for economic benefit
  2. Eutrophication (excessive richness of nutrients in water body) give rise to dense growth of plant which led to pollution.
  3. Over extraction of water
  4. Fisheries
  5. Siltation
  6. Weed infestation
  7. Climate change.

Wetlands in India

  1. Wetland comprises 4.6% of the total geographical area of India.
  2. None of the Indian Wetland be notified under domestic law.
  3. Sambhar Lake at Rajasthan is the largest Inland saline Wetland of India.
  4. It is regulated under Wetland Conservation management rules 2017.
  5. Process to identify wetlands has been delegated to the states.
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